Purpose: To understand the molecular pathways that control early human embryo development.
Methods: Improved methods of linear amplification of mRNAs and whole human genome microarray analyses were utilized to characterize gene expression in normal appearing 8-Cell human embryos, in comparison with published microarrays of human fibroblasts and pluripotent stem cells.
Results: Many genes involved in circadian rhythm and cell division were over-expressed in the 8-Cells. The cell cycle checkpoints, RB and WEE1, were silent on the 8-Cell arrays, whereas the recently described tumor suppressor, UHRF2, was up-regulated >10-fold, and the proto-oncogene, MYC, and the core element of circadian rhythm, CLOCK, were elevated up to >50-fold on the 8-Cell arrays.
Conclusions: The canonical G1 and G2 cell cycle checkpoints are not active in totipotent human blastomeres, perhaps replaced by UHRF2, MYC, and intracellular circadian pathways, which may play important roles in early human development.